At the start of our trip we stated we were at the real “Mile Zero” for the AlCan Highway based on the theory prevalent in Weed, CA: Hwy# 97 in Weed runs north as Hwy # 97 through Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska, and parts of it are referred to by all jurisdictions as the Alaska or Al-Can Highway.
Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada also claims to be “Mile Zero” for the Al-Can…as does Edmonton in the Alberta Province of Canada. Also Fairbanks, Alaska likes to claim it is the Northern Terminus of the Al-Can. So who are you to believe? Where is the real start and end of the Al-Can?
It turns out the original AlCan was called the Alaskan Army Highway as it was built by the U.S. Military during WWII. In June of 1941 the Japanese Army invaded the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. It took a year for the American Army to begin a campaign to retake the Islands. That campaign has been called, “The Forgotten Battle” because it was occurring at the same time as the famous Battle for Guadalcanal. A supply route too far east to be reached by the Japanese Air Force, needed to be built. Long straight road surfaces were avoided to ensure that an invading air force could not strafe an entire convoy. Some of the original road was improved and straightened once a defensive purpose was not part of the engineering goal.
The crew who built the Alaskan Army Highway in 1942 had to build new road through the wilderness northward beginning in Fort St. John, because existing (rough) roads to Fort St. John from the South (Dawson Creek, BC) and the East (Edmonton, Alberta) were already in place, just needing improvements. The crew had to painstakingly build 1,422 miles of new road in only two years from Fort St. John all the way to Delta Junction, Alaska, where the road north to Fairbanks already existed.
I suggest we let the original road builders decide what is the starting point and the ending point of their construction. Although the building crew also IMPROVED the existing road up to Fairbanks, the road east to Edmonton, and the road south to Dawson Creek, the original crew would say “Mile Zero” began in “Zero”….their name for Fort St. John, likely the true southern terminus of the Alaskan Army Highway. The City of Weed, CA promised a matching totem pole at Delta Junction…but it is a myth…just some nice moose sightings just outside town.
Only Fairbanks, Alaska disputes the identity of the Northern Terminus in Delta Junction. Again, for the road builders, their new road ended in Delta Junction; their work further north was just improvements made to existing road.